Phillies: 2022’s Offensive Options

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

With the defense on the field, many Philadelphia Phillies on different days will concentrate only on their hitting, while eight teammates will back up the starter on the diamond. Yes, it’s a double-edged sword because the ninth batter is not the rally-killing pitcher for either club. And there’s no usual pitch-around eight-hole hitter.     

               

Hit and Sit:

Expect Phillies purists to howl about the universal DH, while many will begrudgingly accept it. And when the Fightins plate a run during an otherwise inning-ending out by the hurler, fans might overlook it, but they’ll probably vocalize about the opponent scoring in a similar situation. Me: more beneficial than not.                    

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Endings are always tough, but I believe when something ends, there are new beginnings, new opportunities and new things to be excited for, too.” - Mike Fisher   

Since both sides prefer the universal DH, the players believe there’s no required negotiating. And the owners also want extended playoffs, but the stars like the 12-team postseason format instead of management’s preference for 14. Translation: More profit means the union receives something of equal value.   

Restarting the talks, the MLB’s new proposal was only going to move an inch with a counteroffer expected by the MLBPA (player’s association). To date, the owners have only increased the CBT (competitive-balance threshold) from $210 million to $214 million: nothing on service time and revenue sharing.   

The CBT movement indicates something franchises can control if they have a self-imposed limitation. However, the union wants $245 million in year five to the current $220 million offered by management. Spitballing: Halfway could be from $220 million for 2022 to $232 million for 2026.

Since mid-February is the probable lockout endpoint, Dave Dombrowski, POB (president of baseball operations), then will add to likely closer Corey Knebel and utility infielder Johan Camargo. Plus he was pushing hard for left fielder Kyle Schwarber, who isn’t the typical leadoff man, but it’s either him or gutting the farm.

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Phillies: 2022’s Pitching Changes Ahead

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While some Philadelphia Phillies fans bemoan the mound staff, they expected the same results for 2021’s 200 frames after a starter had fired 70 innings in 2020. So, it’ll be no surprise when a rule change from ‘21 to ‘22 doesn't factor into their equations. And the DH will also affect bullpen workloads.           

 

The New Wrinkle:

If the Phillies ace is in a pitcher’s duel, Joe Girardi won’t need a pinch hitter and a reliever. No, the days of being down by 1-0 after six innings and 80 tosses will be different: Zack Wheeler may go eight frames, not six. But now two arms could be available for the eighth or ninth. A plus, no?                    

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Change brings opportunity.” - Nido Qubein

Realistically, the universal DH will be 15 new National League jobs, but owners will want an equal return. And, currently, those discussions are in progress, so Girardi’s experience will be beneficial with this available option. Granted, it’s not a huge advantage but it is something.          

Another difference for 2022 is the workload from last summer to the upcoming one. To illustrate, Wheeler will again be working nearly 213 ⅓ innings in ‘22 instead of triple 2020’s 71 frames. Basically, many starters had near-empty tanks in August and/or September: Don’t underestimate endurance.                              

With COVID-19 changing offseason preparation routines, players have adapted to these new obstacles like other Americans. So, an improved winter regimen and 2021’s workload will lead to an accurate evaluation of each star’s ability, but the competition will be tougher also.

In 2022, hurlers will still be on the mound in close games ahead or behind if their pitch counts dictate continuing. And Girardi will not risk a tiring horse to finish a frame because of his batters due up, plus relievers will enter contests for only meaningful outs. Ergo, starters’ innings-pitched averages will increase.   

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Phillies: 2022’s Remaining Decisions

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While Philadelphia Phillies fans have concerns for the upcoming season with the CBA (collective bargaining agreement), the pandemic dominates the news. Realistically, though, some organizations paid the piper by meeting the asking price of or overpaying for top free agents. 

 

Negotiations Ahead:

The Phillies faithful look at the talent menu and gravitate to the top available stars. But when they sign players for $20 million a year, even deep-pocketed franchises must adhere to some flexible budget. Yes, the cost is relevant.   

IN OTHER WORDS:

“You can't reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns.” - Mark Twain

While January slowly inches into February, some doubts will increase due to a frozen stove league. But a February scramble will bookend last December’s deadline. Basically, players will have a month to sign with clubs mostly unwilling to overpay.    

Going with the latest MLB proposal of $214 million CBT (competitive-balance threshold), the Fightins are currently at $189.2 million AAV (average annual value) with $24.8 million AAV left after having an active 26. But that figure includes $600 thousand AAV (MLB minimum) for each youngster they can deduct for every star acquired.     

During his 40-minute presser in October, Dave Dombrowski, POB (president of baseball operations), indicated his needs: a closer, a leadoff hitter, a center fielder, and a right-handed bat with power. Unfortunately, the asking prices, contractual lengths, and competition can either force a mistake or a plan B.  

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2022’s Spenders vs. the Phillies

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

For many Philadelphia Phillies faithful, they are entertainment, when they are triumphant. But the concept of major league baseball being a business is virtually irrelevant and a nuisance at best to some. Realistically, this squad lacks perfection, especially when you compare them to a rival’s magical season. 

 

Expectations:

Believing the Phillies can just acquire hitters and pitchers to produce a championship hasn’t worked in the past. To illustrate, the 1979 Fightins had signed Pete Rose, but they finished fourth after other franchises had claimed they had bought the World Series. In 1980, writers predicted they’d be an also-ran again.

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Success isn't something that just happens - success is learned, success is practiced, and then it is shared.” - Sparky Anderson

I write because it forces me to research the Phils, and I don’t want the light at the tunnel’s end to be a speeding train. Basically, I don't like the darkness of not understanding unmade moves casting a shadow over an entire 162. I, now, have realistic expectations and can follow along.           

Because of having business management and sales experience, I can understand the decisions the higher-ups have made, are completing, or would have interest in. And retirement allows me the time and financial security to have no deadlines and a comfortable approach in my search for answers.                     

In any sport, there are foul lines and rules, aka reality. It’s like a medicinal dose you swallow to get it over with. Because sports, music, movies and television are escapes from the daily grind even without a pandemic, many accept the hope they agree with only to be angry at the team. They believed the scribe.         

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Phillies: 2022’s Fuel for Contention

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

According to reports, Feb. 1 is a soft deadline for the CBA (collective bargaining agreement), so the Philadelphia Phillies faithful can anticipate headline-grabbing negotiations for roughly all of January. Meanwhile, many MLB supporters are complaining about deep-pocketed organizations not making a big splash before December.                       

 

Postseason Aspirations:

If the Phillies want a playoff berth and 2-3 weeks of serious October baseball, there are many factors to consider. Taking it, however, to the next level was somewhat visible in the last three months of 2021. Moreover, a major incentive in 2022 will determine 2023’s earnings for almost 25 percent of the 26-man roster.                    

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Just give me 25 guys on the last year of their contracts; I'll win a pennant every year.” - Sparky Anderson

Every campaign variables are just below the surface, discounted or overlooked. But they determine the divisional winners and postseason-bound franchises. Realistically, finances, health, COVID-19, preparation and luck are roughly 50 percent of the magical summer fans will hope for in spring training.                   

Money is a difficult part for acceptance because many are unaware of the competition and cost. To illustrate, some believe the Fightins can eat $5 million of Didi Gregorius’ $14.5 million –$14 million AAV (average annual value)-- to free up money and move him. But teams prefer waiting for the Phils to cut him and pay the MLB minimum. 

At any time, even a top star can suffer a long-term injury, and it could change the dynamics of the lineup, rotation and/or bullpen. Last season, the red pinstripes had missed Rhys Hoskins and Zach Eflin for one third of ‘21, and eventually the pressure affected the five-man staff and the heart of the batting order.   

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Phillies: 2022’s Big Ifs

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While the Philadelphia Phillies are currently in a lockout delay, many faithful are fighting a losing battle with interest in baseball overall and the red pinstripes in particular. Usually, interruptions in a game include filler, but the current transaction freeze allows for in-depth analysis of the upcoming season’s potential.  

 

A Promising Offense:

To be in the playoff conversation, a one-through-eight juggernaut isn’t a prerequisite. Granted, talented players are a must, but a team of All-Stars isn’t a necessity. And there are many routes to the promised land. In fact, many didn’t expect the 2019 Washington Nationals and the 2021 Atlanta Braves.   

IN OTHER WORDS:

“If you're talented enough and play long enough, and put up numbers, you'll get to the Hall of Fame. That doesn't make you a World Series winner.” - Jimmy Rollins

Based on Phillies-related reports and comments from Dave Dombrowski, POB (president of baseball operations), this projected lineup aligns with his strategy for run production and up-the-middle defense. And it features a unique leadoff man with the power to give Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins first-inning at-bats. 

Set your clocks for a two-month delay total of the hot stove league because the owners don’t want to lose a single game. Translation: Spring training will begin on time because a third consecutive campaign of financial losses is not acceptable: Money rules!                       

Exceeding the CBT (competitive-balance threshold) by $20 million with $5 million for Opening Day and $15 million for the trading deadline doesn’t leave enough to plug every hole. Ergo, selective spending. And POB Dombrowski has no choice but to go outside of the organization for any need he can’t fill with in-house personnel.     

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Phillies: 2022’s Deliberate Approach

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While the Philadelphia Phillies faithful helplessly witnessed the spending frenzy in the majors, they now feel only their team did nothing. But the New York Yankees are applying the same method, plus the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox have had limited activity. Basically, not overpaying.    

            

 Contractual Consequences:

For many Phillies fans, they will carry disappointment through the weeks ahead. And when the campaign begins, they will point out successful players inked before the lockout. Ergo, they will only mention the highlights, but they will be blind to the poor signings and the desperation moves leading to other teams’ difficulties. 

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.” - Robert Louis Stevenson

With a deadline of Dec. 2, many franchises chose to either meet a player’s asking price or overpay to secure his services. They believe they won’t have a last-minute rush to construct their rosters if the negotiations last two months. Yes, Feb. 1 is the anticipated date leaving 2-3 weeks to be ready for spring training.        

The Fightins are in the group taking the deliberate approach. Basically, the remaining stars will compete for offers from like-minded execs, who will want to field the strongest –not the most expensive– active 26. But while there will be less available talent, there also won’t be many organizations going overboard.                  

Some expect another spending frenzy when the new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) takes effect. However, anticipating franchises to ink more top-dollar stars is questionable because this time the players may be under more pressure to find a landing spot.

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Phillies, NL East: 2022’s Rivals’ Issues

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While Philadelphia Phillies and other divisional fans relive ‘22 from first to last place, others will watch impatiently with the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) looming over and distorting the upcoming 162. Now, some players and organizations are finalizing contracts not wanting to have time limits when normality returns.  

 

Greener Pastures:

With the Miami Marlins making more noise, the Phillies and their National League East foes have situations for going right or wrong especially if a negotiated CBA drags on. But their supporters will bemoan everything not working out satisfactorily, while they point to their rivals’ moves.                 

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you.” - Satchel Paige

As the days toward the Dec. 2 deadline inch closer, execs, players and agents must decide to make or accept an offer now. Or they can wait for the uncertainty to vanish with a successive CBA, but the new deal may or may not be beneficial to some franchises and/or stars.     

Analyzing each club reveals their roster holes and financial limitations affected by the CBT (competitive-balance threshold) like an ownership-imposed budget and/or revenue-influenced spending. Yes, each team has warts and won’t fill every opening even if their faithful believe and/or vocalize otherwise.                

Speaking of fan bases, they equate no news as total inaction, but negotiations are time-consuming, and many front offices want the same star. But even if overpaying or meeting the asking price are strategies, they can affect other pickups. It’s or, not both! 

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Phillies: 2022’s Plan A

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Considering that money will play the main role in the Philadelphia Phillies offseason, Dave Dombrowski, POB (president of baseball operations), will have every dollar available for priorities first. Ergo, four free agents are in his immediate sights, while inexpensive players will fill out the remaining spots later.   

 

Maximizing the Dollars:

For the Phillies faithful bracing for winter, the hot stove league is lukewarm. But the execs are playing their seventh game of the World Series when they’re competing for the difference-making stars of limited supply aside from shortstops. But forget overpaying!

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” - Alan Lakein

Addressing each shortcoming individually, the Fightins can acquire a closer, a setup man, a center fielder, a leadoff hitter, a shortstop and a third baseman. Realistically, though, paying top dollar for the best available star to plug every weakness isn’t going to happen because of the prohibitive cost.

Even if the Phils plugged every hole but one, many locals would harp on it relentlessly during rough patches. However, boobirds will have Opening Day to be unhappy and May to give up on players having a slow start. But overall filling two major spots will produce victories.              

In early November, Didi Gregorius had minor surgery to remove right elbow inflammation; and, yes, it had affected his glove and bat. But releasing him isn’t the option some may believe because another franchise will take a flyer on him for only the MLB minimum. Ergo, don’t expect the red pinstripes to eat the other $13.9 million. 

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Phillies: 2022’s Pitching Answers

 
 
By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

 

For Dave Dombrowski, Philadelphia Phillies POB (president of baseball operations), acquiring a closer is atop his wish list. And if his preferred setup man re-ups, the POB will have re-signed Hector Neris plus Jose Alvarado in those roles, and he has Connor Brogdon, Sam Coonrod and Seranthony Dominguez. Plus a set rotation.

 

Head Fakes:

If some Phillies faithful judge 2022’s relief corps by recent summers and departed hurlers’ stats in the overall total, they might miss the improvement a ninth-inning fireman will make. Basically, Dominguez will be the third setup man for the seventh and eighth frames along with the two relievers for the fifth and sixth. 

IN OTHER WORDS:

“The two most important things in life are good friends and a strong bullpen.” - Bob Lemon

With coincidences being rare, Dombrowski’s stated preference is only signing free agents without a QO (qualifying offer), but Raisel Iglesias, the top available closer, has a QO. And when a ninth-frame arm is atop your needs, this younger, more effective hurler can plug your biggest hole.                            

Based on the POB’s order, the starting staff will be Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, Kyle Gibson and Zach Eflin. But even though many locals have questioned Dombrowski’s order, he has solid reasons for this current configuration due to his yearslong experience.             

Considering his 71-frame workload in 2020, Wheeler had an extraordinary season of 213 ⅓ innings: triple the previous campaign. But don't expect the same or better because it could have been a career year. However, he is the ace, will record solid numbers, and is one of the top pitchers in baseball.            

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